Before and right after joining Barcelona, Quique Setién shared all sorts of promising words, but he did not walk the walk. What went wrong for Quique at Barça? Is it his fault?
Press conferences are not always positive events. They are all talk, and they often bite the speaker in the behind whenever matches and results don’t go their way. Recently, Arturo Vidal opened his mouth before the Bayern game, saying that Barça is the best team in the world and that the Bavarians shouldn’t be too cocky. His manager, Quique Setién, knows a lot about press conferences. The Cantabrian coach has some history in such pressers.
Before joining Barcelona, Quique Setién was every culés‘ fantasy because of what he said publicly. From Johan Cruyff’s tactics to his boldness, Setién mesmerised a fanbase that watched him in a few games with Lugo, Las Palmas and Real Betis. It happens a lot in La Liga, and two or three games against the heavyweights usually make the masses’ judgements on coaches and players.
“When I go to a team I can guarantee one thing and that’s that the team will play well.”Quique Setién in his presentation as a Barça manager
When Quique joined Barcelona, the Catalans thought that boldness and free-flowing football would be back at Camp Nou, and it did, for three matches. Setién’s debut was against Granada, and despite only winning 1–0, his side made over 1,000 passes and played Granada, a team that reached Europe this year, off the park. It was smooth football, and the importance of Riqui Puig in the goal gave everyone confidence in Setién, who was going to trust the Barcelona youth.
After the Valencia 2–0 loss in January, though, Setién seemed to go back to Ernesto Valverde‘s tactics and scrapped the three-at-the-back formation for a 4–4–2 or 4–3–3 with Arturo Vidal on the left, just as el Txingurri did.
In the next few months came dull and outdated football, with no substitutions despite having five and playing the same old guard and losing the league in the process. This title loss wasn’t only on Setién, but it was partly his fault for reverting to some ineffective tactics. Let’s be honest, culés would have trusted the process had Quique Setién showed more boldness with his line-ups and use of youngsters.
“Everyone has the same role, the same options to play. I want everyone to think that you have to win the spot every day, but it’s true that there are players who have won a lot over the years.”Quique Setién in his first pre-match press conference at Barcelona
However, since 2017, there has always been a nauseating atmosphere around the club and its heavyweights. It’s clear that Luis Suárez shouldn’t start every game in 2020, as he just comes back from a lengthy injury and is 33, but he does. It’s clear that Vidal isn’t the best option for big away games where the coach tries to control the game, while he started at Anfield and against Bayern. Jordi Alba has been faulty for at least a year, and yet he plays every clash, even when there is a young up and coming left-back in the ranks. Iván Rakitić‘s post-quarantine form was indeed lovely to see, but he did not show enough in the past few seasons to start those crucial fixtures. These are some of the heavyweights that play every time almost without question.
When Setién tried to implement his way of seeing football, the heavyweights probably did not like it because it demanded too much running and application. That’s been the story for a few years. There’s a reason Valverde’s Athletic Club did well and play a good brand of football and Setién’s Betis received a lot of plaudits for his 2017/18 season, for both his football and his results, and they were not unanimous successes at Camp Nou.
The brand Setién proposed at Las Palmas and Betis was much better than what he offered at Barça. Something’s fishy, but it’s still Quique’s fault for not dying with his principles. Dressing room power is a problem, but Setién could have been bolder and stubborn with these players, teaching them the hard way that football is a game of understanding and principles. He failed, unfortunately.
Should Barcelona trust Oscar Mingueza more often?
Barcelona are going through their worst period ever. The Catalan giants have suffered from an institutional crisis, an injury crisis, an economic crisis and a lack of tactical awareness. For a club that was on top of Europe a decade ago, the shift in mood is gloomy, to say the least.
However, even during times of grief, there is always some light. There are no never-ending tunnels, and often, crisis leads to solutions. Some solutions are more radical, while others show their faces step by step.
To answer Barcelona’s injury problems, one that surrounded Gerard Piqué, Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo, one man came to Barcelona’s rescue. The absentees forced Ronald Koeman’s hand in giving Oscar Mingueza his well-deserved Barcelona debut against Dynamo Kyiv.
The defender is a tall 21-year-old who has been through every La Masia team. Ever since he turned 7, the Spaniard has been waiting for his chance, and Piqué’s horrible injury propelled him into getting his long-awaited opportunity. Away in Ukraine, the youngster showed a lot of promise. Vocal, superb with his feet and calm with his head, Mingueza was one of the best Blaugrana players on the pitch.
As captain of Barcelona B, Oscar Mingueza is one of the most experienced CBs in the youth sides. (Photo via Imago)
The situation was precarious for Barça at first. They went in with a makeshift defence and dominated the encounter. The same defence proceeded to frustrate the Ukrainians.
In truth, the La Masia graduate showed much more than just a promise, he showed a lot of character. Mingueza looked like a natural, as Jordi Alba said; like a player in his prime rather than a rookie.
Now, after catching everyone’s eyes, the debutant has to continue to mirror that display in order to become a mainstay. His display on Tuesday has given a lot of hope to Culés and could be the answer to many questions. He could become a reliable backup or, if he still shows this level of performance, become a regular. It is up to him to show if he is up for the fight.
Usually for Barcelona, when things go South, they are uncontrollable. The recent displays, along with the accumulations of injuries, have shown that when it rains, it pours at Camp Nou.
When Leo Messi goes down injured, for example, the Catalans look worried and anxious because they have no replacement. Having a big squad sometimes does not mean having a complete squad. Every team needs to know where they are headed and who will play in case of a watershed during the season. However, the giants finally have a complete squad.
Ronald Koeman left out Frenkie de Jong and Messi against Kyiv, and the Blaugranas were able to take control of the situation in their absence. The Dutch midfielder is also the usual suspect when a defender goes down injured. On Tuesday, Koeman might have discovered an alternative to de Jong at centre-back.
Indeed, Mingueza is not the finished product. He needs time to grow and cannot play every game like a veteran. He has to be embedded intelligently in the squad.
Nonetheless, in desperate times, the ball-playing centre-back looks like a great alternative. His attitude showed many signs of ripeness, and he can at least help when his club needs him. As a La Masia graduate, Mingueza will fit right in.
Also, as a youth player, the defender costs next to nothing compared to Umtiti’s salary, for example. Having a cheap alternative which has been waiting for this chance since he was a kid is the way to go. If Barcelona want to go back to their roots, they have to trust Mingueza.
📰 — Mingueza played a very good game vs Kyiv, and his great performance could earn him a starting spot alongside Lenglet against Osasuna on Sunday. [md] pic.twitter.com/bZHhWeLFiw— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) November 25, 2020
Finally, it is worth noting that this was one game, and so the sample size is incredibly tiny. That said, no one starts with a dominating display against Atletico Madrid right off the bat.
Would the 21-year-old have had a Man of the Match performance on Saturday if Piqué was not a starter? Is it plausible to have blind faith in a youngster after one impressive display? Surely not.
After making his debut a memorable one, Oscar Mingueza needs to come in strong against the bigger guns and help Barcelona fill in for Pique, whose void is a behemoth. He can achieve it and have a bright future at Camp Nou if he keeps his feet on the ground. It all starts with another superb performance against Osasuna this weekend.